Friday, October 21, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #57 WGA Script of All Time - Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989)

[Quick Summary: An opthamologist has his mistress killed, & a documentary filmmaker falls for another woman.]

I couldn't find this script available anywhere (boooooo!)

So I re-watched the movie instead (yayyyyyy!)

But it wasn't the same (boooo!)

I was particularly disappointed because this film has many, MANY flashbacks, and it's rare to see flashbacks done right.

(And by "right", I mean flashbacks are there for a specific reason, and not just information dumping.)

In this film, Woody Allen uses flashbacks to show a character's PRESENT EMOTIONAL STATE.  That's right - he uses the past to show motives, and/or what the character is feeling NOW.

ex.  The mistress waits for her married lover Judah.

The scene goes back to a happy moment when she and Judah walked on the beach.  Judah voices doubts: "I don't think we should do this here."  She distracts him and mixes up Schubert with Schuman.  Judah reassures her: "I'll teach you...some day we'll have a lot of time."

Why is the flashback there? It shows us why the mistress is holding on so tight to Judah NOW.

In the past, they had fun together. He was debonair, he cared about her.  He even seemed to promise a future together ("some day we'll have a lot of time").

When the scene returns to the present, it's clear why the mistress feels the way she does.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The flashback can show motive & PRESENT emotional stakes.

ex. If the mistress loses Judah, she loses the only joy her life seems to have.

Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989)
by Woody Allen

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